Merrick laments Phoenix’s travel blues

Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has expressed his concern over his team’s inability to win on the road following another heartbreaking loss.

The Phoenix have claimed just one win and a draw from their past eight matches away from home, conceding a whopping 24 goals during that nightmare stretch.

Merrick’s side went down 2-1 to a 10-man Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Friday night to end a forgettable two-week stay in Australia that began last weekend with a final-minute defeat to Adelaide United.

“It’s always a concern (losing on the road) and there’s no excuses for the travel,” the Scottish-born manager said.

“Our preparation was good. We came here directly from Adelaide after the last game … the weather was good to us, it wasn’t too hot, and we had good training sessions, but we just had too many boys flat tonight.

“It’s been very frustrating (the past fortnight). I thought we had a draw in Adelaide with 10 seconds to go and I look at how a more experienced Glory handled that. They kept the ball, they still created problems for us and they took the ball into corners when they had to save time, so they did a good job and saved a win.

“We probably should have come away with a point or two, but I don’t think we played well enough to win either game.”

Merrick rued his side’s unusually high number of turnovers (32) and said his players only had themselves to blame for the defeat.

“It took a while to find our groove and the passing was poor, but that’s what happens when you concede a goal within two minutes and you’re on the backfoot,” Merrick said.

“Unusually, players like Rolieny Bonevacia and Albert Riera, I’ve never seem them give the ball away so often. We really missed that third attacking midfielder.”

Wellington remains fifth on the Hyundai A-League table despite the loss and Merrick hoped the return of playmaker Michael McGlinchey for next Sunday’s home clash with Melbourne City would help put his side’s season back on track.

McGlinchey was set to play against Glory in Perth after missing the Adelaide match because of international duty, but he rushed back to New Zealand on Thursday when his wife Rachel suddenly went into labour.

“He got there late (Thursday) night and they had the baby (on Friday) and that’s the good news … a baby girl, Annabel, all went well,” Merrick said.

“Despite what Bill Shankly says, family is much more important than a stupid game.”